Tuesday, June 30, 2009

For the love of the game of football

For the love of the game of football

The Quebec Titans are classified as a semi-professional team, but they actually pay to play



By Randy Phillips, The GazetteJune 29, 2009



Titans’ kicker Tom Koncic, right, came to Montreal from Australia three years ago: “I’m still trying to get used to the helmet and all the pads and the stuff … all the rubbish.”

Titans' kicker Tom Koncic, right, came to Montreal from Australia three years ago: "I'm still trying to get used to the helmet and all the pads and the stuff … all the rubbish." Photograph by: Marie-France Coallier, The Gazette

On an idyllic evening for football in Point St. Charles, John Mouland checks off the names of players hurriedly arriving from the parking lot.

"Come on, guys. You're a bit late," the coach says as players lug equipment into the rear door of a Montreal Catholic Schools Commission building backing on to Parc Leber.

Other players already dressed for practice emerge and trot toward the field.

"Where are those guys coming from, Ottawa?" Mouland asks of no one in particular.

"They're coming," someone replies. "They just arrived. They're getting out of their cars."

Ron Kay, a big offensive lineman already suited up, stands nearby sizing up new helmets team co-owners Jeff Craig and Nick Sarantinos have brought for players to try on.

"How much?" Kay asks as he pulls the first one over his head.

"About $300 with the (eye) shield," Craig says.

"Hmmmm … might have to convince my wife not to pay the Hydro bill this month," Kay says with a laugh. "How much for this other one? Feels like a better fit."

"About $150," he is told.

It's another once-a-week, preseason practice for the Quebec Titans – the only Canadian team in the U.S.-based Empire Football League. More significantly, the Titans are the reigning league champions and are preparing to defend their title when the new season begins on July 11.

The league plays by National Football League rules, and while it is referred to as "semi-professional," the players actually pay to play. They also have real day jobs and families to balance, but by playing this hard-nosed, full-tackle brand of football into their late 30s and even early 40s, the Titans are proof that old football players don't always just fade away.

"It's the passion for the game that keeps these guys wanting to continue to play," says Mouland, 70, a career amateur football coach who is in his fifth season with the

Titans and is also president of the Quebec Junior Football League's Châteauguay Raiders.

"Some guys just aren't ready to pack it in after their time playing junior football, at university, or maybe even in the (Quebec) senior league, where there is no hitting below the waist," Mouland adds. "Some also want to try the NFL rules (different from Canadian Football League rules), but more than anything it's about the passion. As long as they're motivated and healthy, they can do it."

The team – formerly known as the Montreal Titans and Châteauguay Titans – joined the EFL in 2005, two years after the league's Montreal Condors relocated to Ottawa. The Condors were renamed the Demon Deacons and remained in the league until last season.

The EFL is one of almost two dozen "semi-pro" leagues scattered throughout the United States and has been in existence since 1969. This season there are seven teams, including the Plattsburgh North Stars, Amsterdam (N.Y.) Zephyrs, Watertown (N.Y.) Red & Black – the oldest semi-pro football club in the U.S., dating back to 1896 – Massena (N.Y.) Silver & Black Raiders, Binghampton (N.Y.) Broome County Dragons and Vermont Ice Storm.

The Titans beat the Ice Storm 12-10 in South Hero, Vt., last Oct. 25 to complete an 11-1-0 season and become the first Canadian champions in the history of the league.

Though the Titans' practice facility is in Point St. Charles, their home base is Châteauguay, where Mouland resides. Home games are played at École secondaire Louis-Philippe Paré, which has what is believed to be the only NFL-lined football field in the Montreal area.

Sarantinos and Craig, both former Condors, started the new franchise in the wake of the Condors' demise, wanting to keep alive the opportunity for "old guys in the area" to continue playing. Each player pays a $120 registration fee and must have his own equipment.

"All we supply are the jerseys," says Sarantinos, adding that registration fees help defray the expense of chartering a coach bus for road games. "We've got 50 sets (of jerseys), so our maximum roster size is 50.

"You're not looking at two guys trying to make money by owning a football team. Far from it," Craig adds. "Money comes out of our own pockets at times, but hey, it's for the love of this game."

The majority of the players and coaches come from the Greater Montreal region, but in recent years some have travelled from as far away as Toronto for practices and games. On this night, nine players make the trip from Ottawa, leaving right after work for an 8:30 p.m. practice that lasts three hours.

The average age is 25, and walk-ons are a frequent occurrence, as was the case with punter Tom Koncic, who joined the Titans before the start of last season.

"I just live a couple of streets over (from Leber Park) and saw these guys having a go here," says Koncic, a 35-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, who came to Montreal three years ago. "I used to play (Australian) Rules Football and just wanted to see if I could have a shot at punting.

"Last year was the first year I ever played this game," he adds. "My impressions of the game? Not bad, but I'm still trying to get used to the helmet and all the pads and the stuff … all the rubbish."

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Koncic, married and the father of two boys, ended up leading the league in punting last season and earned a first-team all-star selection in addition to a championship ring.

"In Aussie rules, we pass the ball by kicking it, so really the only thing I've had to get used to here is taking two steps before kicking it now," Koncic says. "Take the pads and helmets away and I think this game would be really great, but then you might as well call it rugby, I guess."

Kay, a 6-foot-3, 260-pounder who recently turned 38, also joined the Titans last season, returning to the game after not having played since his days in the midget ranks while attending Rosemont High School. He said his sons Steven, 15, and Ryan,11, get a huge kick seeing their father play the same sport they do.

"A few friends teased me for about a year about coming out to play, and finally I did," Kay says. "And even though my wife, Tammy, is a good friend of Jeff's wife, she wanted her to tell Jeff to tell me not to play. As much as they bugged me at every game I came to see, it was my kids whose eyes lit up when I told them I was being asked to play. I decided to show them that Dad was not too old.

"Winning the championship was a bonus," Kay adds. "My sons' names are engraved inside the ring and they've gotten a thrill out that. And Tammy loves it, too. She'd come out to watch games even if I wasn't playing.

"She says it's an added bonus that I am playing. She says she loves to see me in tight pants."


© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette


Monday, June 29, 2009

Empire Football League Press Release June 30, 2009



Empire Football League Press Release June 30, 2009


(877) 624-4485
e-mail: empirefoot@aol.com

website: www.empire-football-league.com


The Empire Football League met recently to kickoff their 2009 season. During this meeting, the season schedule was modified due to leaves of absence taken by Ottawa/Joliet and Amsterdam. With the Scranton Eagles also currently on leave of absence, this now results in 6 active EFL teams for the 2009 season.


The EFL season starts July 11th, has a bye September 5th and ends September 19th.  The EFL Playoffs will take place on September 26th, October 3rd and will conclude with the EFL Championship Game on October 10th.    


The Empire Football League is in its 41st season of playing football and is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year (2009). We are excited about the 2009 season and remain committed to providing the best semi pro football for our member teams and their communities.


 For additional information visit our EFL web site at www.empire-football-league.com



(Revised 06/28/2009)








































#1 & #2  – BYE

#6 @ #3, #5 @ #4







4/5 WINNER @ #1

3/6 WINNER @ #2






Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stars win preseason test

Stars win preseason test

Staff Writer

June 28, 2009 03:23 am

Plattsburgh North Stars' running back Heath Geiser rushes against the Vermont Ravens' defense. Geiser ran for 54 yards on four carries and a touchdown before he injured himself on a 23-yard scamper in the second quarter. He was taken away in an ambulance with an apparent hip injury. North Stars won 25-7. PR Photo

PLATTSBURGH — The Vermont Ravens made their first pass completion three minutes into the third quarter and scored their first touchdown on a 27-yard strike from Sean O'Connor to Michael Ball.

And while it was a nice-looking play, it was a rare sight in the Plattsburgh North Stars' 25-7 victory over the Ravens at Plattsburgh High School Saturday night.

On the first play from scrimmage, Stars' linebacker Jamil McCray gave a glimpse of things to come with a harassing blitz that forced O'Connor into a wobbly throw.

Brandon St. John intercepted the ball on the play, and Plattsburgh went on a 19-0 first-half run.

"I was happy with the defense," Stars head coach Pat Keleher said. "Especially the secondary, I thought they played very well and are picking up the system nicely."

Donny Coolidge made a fourth-quarter interception for the Stars.

Plattsburgh quarterback Ken Stay, who graduated from PHS in 2007, made a respectable return to his high school turf, going 9-19 for 136 yards, no passing touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback keeper for a score.

"It was kind of a déja vù playing at my old stomping grounds," Stay said.

The first-year signal caller had one dry spell in the second quarter, throwing five-straight incomplete passes. However, Stay insisted he and his receivers are quickly developing chemistry, and it showed.

He hit Kelly Gordon on a perfect touch pass for 27 yards on the team's third offensive play.

Stay also connected on a deep 64-yard pass with Matt St. Clair in the first quarter that was taken to the end zone but negated on a holding penalty.

The two connected for a 21-yard strike on the next series, and Stay found Jordan Keleher for 23 yards on the next play.

He missed one good scoring opportunity at the beginning of the fourth quarter, underthrowing a wide open Gordon down the left sideline.

"I thought (Stay) played real well," Stars offensive coordinator and former Vermont Ice Storm offensive coordinator Scott Aguglia said. "It seems like he's starting to get pretty comfortable with the offense."

Brandon Keleher provided some offensive support by putting together a stout ground game for Plattsburgh. The Stars halfback and captain rushed for 115 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter.

Heath Geiser scored a 15-yard touchdown and totaled 54 yards rushing before going down with an apparent hip injury. He was taken away in an ambulance.

Coach Keleher said his fullbacks made big contributions blocking and the play of the offensive line was "much better" than last week.

First-year kicker Mitch Ryder tallied an extra point with 38 and 26-yard boots for seven total points.

"Mitch adds a lot," Keleher said. "It's nice to have confidence in being able to make field goals, even though I wasn't real happy with being forced to take them after being stopped pretty close to the end zone."

The Stars, along with the Empire Football League, are working out schedule issues today. Plattsburgh is slated to face the Vermont Ice Storm in three weeks, but an official schedule for the upcoming weeks is to be announced.

Plattsburgh 25, Vermont 7



First quarter-

P- Stay 1-yard run (PAT no good).

P- Geiser 15-yard run (Ryder kick).

Second quarter-

P- Ryder 38-yard kick

P- Ryder 26-yard kick

Third quarter-

V- O'Connor 27-yard pass to Ball (Beaulieu)

P- Keleher 49-yard run

Individual statistics


Stars- B. Keleher, 12-115, TD; Stay, 3-(-3), TD; Parks, 1-0; Geiser, 4-54, TD; Ball, 1-7; Tromblee, 4-17. Totals: 25-190, 3 TD.

Ravens- Young, 3-0; Williams, 7-41; Beaumont, 1-0; O'Connor, 3-(-11); Ball, 2-13; Catella, 2-5; Mickel, 1-(-4). Totals: 20-44.


Stars- Stay, 9-19-0-136; J. Keleher, 0-3-0-0.

Ravens- O'Connor 2-11-2-50, TD.


Stars- Gordon, 1-27; Fish, 3-34; J. Keleher, 2-29; M. St. Clair, 3-46. Totals: 9-136.

Ravens- Beaumont, 1-23; Ball, 1-27, TD. Totals: 2-50, TD.


Stars- Coolidge, St. John.

Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.



Altercation halts Red and Black game

Altercation halts Red and Black game

WATERTOWN WINS ON FORFEIT: Western New York refuses to play after player ejected at half
SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2009

The Watertown Red and Black's preseason matchup versus the visiting Western New York Cougars was called off before the second half of Saturday's game due to an altercation at halftime.

According to Red and Black head coach George Ashcraft, a player from each team was ejected because of their conduct at the end of the first half. Ashcraft pulled his player for the second half, but the Cougars refused to finish the game if their player was not allowed to play. No punches were thrown, according to Ashcraft, but local law enforcement was called to the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds field as a precaution. Western New York forfeited the game, which was scoreless.

"We probably will not play them ever again, given the circumstances of the way they reacted to every situation given here," Ashcraft said. "This is not supposed to happen at the level of the game. ... It's sad because it was a great game."

The Red and Black, which defeated Lyndonville, 6-3, in a preseason game two weeks ago, are scheduled to begin the Empire Football League season with a home game versus the Massena Silver and Black Raiders on July 11.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Stars to host Ravens in final preseason test

Published June 27, 2009 12:25 am - The Plattsburgh North Stars will host the Vermont Ravens tonight at Plattsburgh High School for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff in their home opener and final preseason game.

Stars to host Ravens in final preseason test

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh North Stars host the Vermont Ravens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Plattsburgh High School in their final preseason test before kicking off the Empire Football League season in mid-July.

It will be the second consecutive year Plattsburgh faces the young Ravens organization.

The Stars cruised to a 40-13 victory over Vermont in last year's meeting, but Plattsburgh captain and center Nick Moore insists his team isn't taking the visitors lightly tonight.

"We beat the Ravens handily last year, but the word out there is that they picked up some good, new guys and will be a stronger team," Moore said.

The Ravens finished their 2008 New England Football League A Division regular season at 3-5, losing to the eventual League champions, the Tri-City Charge, in the playoffs.

North Stars head coach Pat Keleher said he's taking the same approach in the game as he did last weekend in the team's 13-7 victory over the Southern Vermont Storm.

"We're playing to win the game, but it is still an opportunity to get everyone in and rotate people through positions," he said.

He added that if the team gets in a "crunch time" situation near the end of the game, the personnel whom he thinks gives the team the best chance to win will see the field.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Red & Black wins exhibition debut

Red & Black wins exhibition debut

SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2009

Riding a stout defense, the Watertown Red and Black began its season Saturday night with a 6-3 exhibition victory over the Lyndonville Tigers at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

The Red and Black defense, led by linebacker Mike Dumaw, limited Lyndonville to just a second-quarter field goal. Dumaw registered seven solo tackles and nine assists to lead the defense.

Linebacker Greg Roberson had two quarterback sacks and four tackles, defensive end James Moore came up with two fumble recoveries, Ben Call had three sacks, and Dusty Houppert and Ben Pritchard each added eight tackles.

"The defense played really well," said Watertown head coach George Ashcraft. "The offense got off to a slow start. But we've got some good personnel and three weeks to get ready (for the regular season)."

Watertown's only score came on a 12-yard pass from quarterback Brian Green to Paul Blouin early in the second quarter.

T. J. Williams led the rushing attack with 25 yards on eight carries.

Watertown is back home in two weeks, hosting the New York Cougars from Buffalo in another exhibition game.

The regular-season opener is July 11 at the Fairgrounds against Massena. Season tickets are still available for $25.

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